The event that I went to this week was Zen Meditation. I wasn’t sure what to expect before hand, and when I got there I was surprised at how many people showed up. The room was square, and in the middle there were mats layed out in a circle. The mats had little pillows on them to sit on. We started with the instructor talking about meditation and teaching us poses. Then, we sat and meditated for about 15 minutes. Usually, we will meditate for a longer period of time, but the first session was about learning the logistics.
For class, we read two short stories and a poem. The first short story was “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is about a woman who goes on a summer vacation with her husband. She has depression so she is not allowed to do anything active or write. She stays in her room all day. She starts a secret journal that she keeps from her husband. She writes about the room. It has yellow wallpaper that at first she thought was ugly, but then as time goes on she starts to like it. She studies the pattern on the wallpaper, and realizes that there is the shape of a woman on it. Then she sees that the main pattern looks like bars, and the woman is “stooping and creeping”. She believes the woman is trying to get out. Meanwhile, her husband, John, won’t let her leave the house because of her illness. As time goes on, the narrator’s illness gets worse, and eventually, she becomes crazy. She thinks she escaped from the wallpaper like the image of the woman is trying to, and she goes insane.
The second short story is “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is about a married couple. The woman has a birthmark on her cheek in the shape of a hand. Many people think her birthmark is beautiful and envy her for it. Her husband, who is a scientist, thinks it is ugly and would do anything to remove it from her face. The wife, Georgiana, decides if he wants to remove it, then she will let him. He starts experimenting in his lab. Eventually, he has Georgiana drink a potion that puts her to sleep. When she wakes up, her birthmark is gone. She tells her husband that he “rejected the best the earth could offer,” and then she dies.
Finally, we read a poem called I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth. The narrator is wandering like a cloud above hills and valleys, and finding a patch of daffodils by a lake. The narrator can’t help but feel happy because the flowers were so beautiful. Whenever he feels sad, he recalls his memory of the daffodils and feels happy again.
All of these stories have a character who only has one thing on their mind. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the woman is obsessed with getting out. In “The Birthmark,” Aylmer is obsessed with removing his wife’s birthmark. In I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, the narrator is taken by the magic and beauty of the field of flowers. In Zen Meditation, I found myself thinking of one thing, which was trying to think of nothing at all, and entering a state of meditation where I was calm and serene.